What can you find in the photo above? Many of the organisms that our group studies are cryptic- hidden in their environment. Sometimes a trained eye can spot them- a slightly different texture, motion slightly out of sync with the rest of the setting- but most of the time we swim right past, just like everything else. When people think of the biodiversity of a coral reef, most think of colorful fish, or the corals. Yet the real bulk of diversity, and some of the most amazing creatures are the little things, the hidden things.
An interesting idea to think about is the coloration of reef creatures. Out of their habitat, some appear very colorful- almost psychedelic. But when placed on the reef with it's complex colors and shapes, they disappear. A good example of this is the shrimp Saron, photo below.
Both crabs and shrimps are very good at hiding, and several families of each group have specialized in crypsis, or camoflaouge. The family Majidae, or 'spider crabs' are a great example. Some members of this group are known as 'decorator crabs' because they gather material from the world around them and attach it to their shell and legs in order to hide.
Others, such as the shrimp family Crangonidae, rely on the coloration of the body itself to provide the protection. Can you find the shrimp in the photo below?
So how are you doing with that photo at the top? Here's a photo of the Leucosid crab that is in sand. See it now?